Spotify opens up subscription option to U.S.-based podcasters

If you want to charge a fee, you'll need to upload your podcast episodes through Anchor.

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Spotify is now allowing all U.S.-based podcasters to offer subscriptions to their shows and make them available on its service. You’ll need to upload your podcasts through Anchor, its podcast creation and distribution platform, though, after which you can sell subscriptions through both a private RSS feed (in any service that supports them) and within the Spotify app itself.

Podcast subscriptions have been offered through Spotify since April. Perhaps its biggest rival, Apple, has also begun allowing podcast creators to charge a fee for access to their shows. But Spotify is enticing podcasters with a promise that it won’t take a cut of revenue until 2023, after which it’ll only take 5 percent. Apple is charging its typical 30 percent levy on sales, though it can say that it has the most popular podcast player in the world (for now).

International options coming — Spotify says that international users will be able to sell subscriptions in the future, and they’ll be able to start subscribing to premium podcasts on September 15. The company hopes that podcasting will be big on its platform because it’ll provide a new stream of revenue beyond music, where subscription growth will eventually plateau.

Spotify is allowing hosts who upload through Anchor to take their subscriber email lists with them, in the event they choose to move to a different platform. Apple doesn’t do that out of concern for privacy. Podcasters will probably want to upload their shows everywhere in the interest of reaching the most people.

No more openness — Until now, podcasting was pretty simple: you uploaded your show to a service like Apple Podcasts, and then a public RSS feed would be created so that listeners could simply download the show through whatever podcast app they used. Now the likes of Apple and Spotify see an opportunity to make money — podcast advertising revenue alone is expected to hit $1 billion this year — and that means out with the openness. Private RSS feeds like the ones Anchor creates can only be accessed through a platform that supports subscriptions.

The rise of subscription services like Patreon and OnlyFans has shown that people are willing to pay for content from their favorite creators, though, so subscription podcast tools could empower more people to go independent and make money from their talent. Newsletter service Substack also recently announced its own foray into podcasts. It’s yet to be seen how many people might actually make significant money on podcast subscriptions, however, as audiences are used to them being free. Podcasters also risk shrinking their audiences if they go paid.